By Luanna Stewart
Woo boy, alone with her at last. But where to go? Sitting on a crowded subway wouldn’t allow him to concentrate on Jojo and what she said. And wouldn’t give him nearly enough time to look at her. He’d wait until they got to Central Park and maybe inspiration would strike.
This date had to be perfect, and Shawn was getting the signal it wouldn’t be easy. Sure there was interest in her eyes; he’d experienced it enough from other women over the years to spot it. But there was also a reticence, a distance he aimed to bridge.
Silence fell between them as they headed for the train. Heck, he hadn’t felt this nervous around a girl since high school. Say something, you idiot!
“So, how’ve you been?” Oh yeah, really cool.
“Busy lately, with the holidays coming up.”
“I’ve seen your vlog.” He sensed the tension from her body as soon as the words were out of his mouth.
“You have? Why?” She laughed, seemingly nervous and unsure herself. Not at all the image she conveyed on screen.
“I like to keep up with what my friends are doing.”
“Yeah, but you’re a guy.”
“I had noticed.”
“No, that’s not what I meant. You can’t be interested in shoes and make-up.” She cut him a glance. “Can you?”
He laughed. “Only when they’re on a woman.” He reached for her hand. “You were talking about these gloves the other day.” He gave her hand a squeeze and didn’t let go.
“Wow, you really have been watching.”
“Like I said, I like to keep up. Should I buy a pair for my sister?”
“Definitely. The hat that goes with them is cute too.”
“There’s half my Christmas shopping done, thanks to you.”
They got off half a block from the park, pausing in the sun by a wrought iron bench. “You feel like a walk?”
“Sure.” She scampered ahead, relieved to be in the fresh air. Holding hands was too much, too soon. She took a deep breath, concentrating on the oxygen filling her lungs, her chest, her muscles. Smooth and easy. There was plenty of air, plenty of space. She didn’t have to be here, she could leave. She chose to be here.
Shawn put a handful of coins in the meter and joined her on the sidewalk. He reached again for her hand. Who would have thought that she’d be walking through Central Park holding hands with Shawn Davis? Not her, except in her fantasies.
Out here, with other people milling about, her heart rate stayed normal and she wasn’t breaking out in a sweat. She could do this. She could be a normal person.
Now for some casual banter. Work was always a safe topic.
“You mentioned being in town for business. What do you do?” Of course she already knew, having spent several minutes the previous evening checking all the social media sites.
“I’m an architect.”
“Very cool. What have you designed? Anything I’d have seen?”
He chuckled. “No, not yet. I’m in a large firm and just getting established. I’m with a team designing a remodeling project over on Seventh Avenue.”
They came to a fork in the path and she moved to the right, while Shawn moved to the left. They laughed, he gave a slight tug on her hand, and just like that she was chest to chest with the sexy man of her dreams.
She started to shake and felt like she was choking.